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Current news in OS & OT

Peter Rappolt Family Scholarships Announced

The Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy and the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto are pleased to jointly announce the Peter Rappolt Family Scholarships for Research in Occupational Performance and Wellbeing.

Beginning in 2018, the Peter Rappolt Family Scholarship for Research in Occupational Performance and Wellbeing will be awarded to a second year MScOT student in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy who is undertaking a MScOT Graduate Research Project to improve the occupational performance and wellbeing of individuals with serious mental illness and developmental or chronic health conditions, and who has achieved the highest overall standing in Year I research courses.

At the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute, the endowed Peter Rappolt Family Scholarship for Research in Occupational Performance and Wellbeing will be awarded based on academic merit to a graduate of a World Federation of Occupational Therapists-approved entry-level occupational therapy program who is enrolled in the first year doctoral program to undertake research to improve the occupational performance and wellbeing of individuals with serious mental health concerns and complex developmental and chronic health conditions.

The Rehabilitation Sciences Institute and the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy are incredibly grateful to Dr. Susan Rappolt and the entire Rappolt family for their thoughtful consideration of students and research in establishing these awards in honour of their brother, Peter.  Their generosity and understanding of the need for occupational science and occupational therapy graduate research funding is greatly appreciated and truly valued.

Tsering Wangmo

Tsering Wangmo Receives Dalai Lama Trust 2017 Graduate Scholarship

Tsering is in her second year of the Master’s program in Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the University of Toronto. As a Tibetan Canadian who was born and raised in Nepal, occupation only had one meaning for Tsering: the occupation of her homeland Tibet in 1959. When Tsering immigrated to Canada in 2004, she was fortunate to have settled in Toronto’s Parkdale community, located in the heart of one of the largest Tibetan diaspora in North America. During her first few years in Toronto, she found herself participating in meaningful activities at her school and local community centres, which played a vital role in helping to develop her Tibetan-Canadian identity. Adapting to the Canadian culture while preserving her Tibetan roots was challenging for Tsering; however, by holding core human values of compassion, tolerance, and self-discipline as promoted by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, she was able to embrace challenges and view them as opportunities.

As a student training to become an occupational therapist, Tsering seeks to improve health, well-being, and quality of life through occupation; that is, anything meaningful to a person and occupies their time. Tsering has pursued opportunities in both clinical and community settings. She has worked with hospitalized elders to support them in their activities of daily living and help them to return to their homes and communities. She has also worked with children and youth as a special needs support staff and program director. Further, she continues to work in the Parkdale community to support children and youth recreational programs. Tsering aspires to support the transition of young Tibetan immigrants to Canada by offering activities with cultural and personal relevance and giving the term “occupation” a hopeful meaning for Tibetan-Canadians.

About the Dalai Lama Trust Graduate Scholarship: Each year, the Dalai Lama Trust selects ten to fifteen exceptional candidates of Tibetan descent to receive a scholarship award: “The purpose of the scholarship program is to further the human capital development of the Tibetan people by supporting the pursuit of excellence among Tibetan students in a field of graduate studies of their choice.”

Dr. Patty Rigby

Dr. Patty Rigby Retires from OS&OT

Dr Patricia Rigby retired from the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the University of Toronto on June 30, 2017, and was appointed Associate Professor Emerita effective July 1. Dr Rigby worked part-time as a faculty member throughout her 23-year career at University of Toronto, and was Graduate Coordinator from 2001 to 2008. She also worked as a Scientist at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, retiring from there in 2012.

Dr Rigby’s passion was children’s rehabilitation. She conducted research to develop and evaluate assistive technologies for children and youth to examine the influence of environments on children’s play and participation, and to develop outcome measurement to evaluate rehabilitation services for children and their families. She was also a member of a team of occupational therapy (OT) academics who developed the Person-Environment-Occupation (PEO) Model to guide OT practice. This
model is widely used by OTs around the world and has been cited extensively in the international OT literature. The PEO model places greater emphasis on the role of the environment within OT practice. Dr. Rigby published the book, Using Environments to Enable Occupational Performance (Letts, Rigby & Stewart, 2003), and contributed numerous chapters to prominent OT textbooks about OT and the environment.

Dr Rigby was a popular educator; she taught primarily about OT with children and the application of theory to OT practice. Dr. Rigby says that what she will miss the most is student contact through teaching, research supervision, advising, and mentoring. In fact, many former students have described how valuable her mentorship was, during the program and after they graduated.

During the past several years, Dr Rigby has established a formal connection with our alumni through the PT-OT Alumni Association, and the development of the alumni section of our website to bring recognition to alumni achievements, with the assistance of work-study students. Dr Rigby will continue in her Departmental role with alumni into her retirement.

In recognition of Dr Rigby’s retirement, members of the Department and Alumni have contributed donations towards the new Patty Rigby and John Wedge Scholarship in Science and Technology, which Dr Rigby and her husband created through the Faculty of Medicine to support occupational therapists in the doctoral stream program of the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute. Please contact Katie Rock, Senior Development Officer, at to donate to this scholarship.

OS&OT Alumna Named YMCA Woman of Excellence

Michelle Quintyn (‘81) is the President and CEO of Goodwill Industries, Ontario Great Lakes, and one of eight leaders recognized in 2017 as a YMCA woman of excellence in the category of Business and Professionals. These titles only begin to describe Michelle’s many accomplishments, as her passion for building and supporting inclusive communities began long before Michelle became an OT.

Michelle grew up in Southwestern Ontario, near London. While in high school, she worked in a nursing home where she first encountered marginalized populations. Michelle went on to study nursing at Ryerson University and worked in this role for a few years at Wellesley Hospital. As a nurse, Michelle was exposed to variety of practice settings and professionals, including OT. Over time, Michelle found herself increasingly fascinated by interior design and creating inclusive spaces and communities for people living with disability. Michelle soon returned to Toronto to pursue a degree in OT, with the intention of working in an administrative role after graduation.

Upon graduating, Michelle first worked as a clinical OT for a short time. In this role, she had a client with Parkinson’s and realized that there were no available support groups for this population. In collaboration with her client, Michelle became the founder of the Parkinson Society of Southwestern Ontario. Early in its origin, Michelle began to experience frustration that the organization was not earning anywhere near its capacity. In response to this realization, Michelle took it upon herself to learn about fundraising and development for healthcare to help the Society reach its full potential.

Although Michelle continued to volunteer with the Society for 9 years, she found herself moving on to a new role in 1986 as the founding Executive Director, University Hospital Foundation and Vice-President of Development of the Hospital in London, Ontario. In this role, Michelle was able to integrate her knowledge of OT, nursing, healthcare, and fundraising to help facilitate health and community development projects. More than a decade later, Michelle moved on to spearhead the re-development of London’s Covent Garden Market. Michelle’s OT background was particularly beneficial as she worked with 52 small businesses on various vocational pursuits. After the successful rebuild and launch of the market, Michelle found herself in her current role at Goodwill Industries.

Michelle described herself as ‘coming home to her OT career’ upon transitioning to Goodwill. This organization is one of the world’s largest social enterprises and the largest employer of individuals living with disabilities, per capita, in Ontario. Michelle’s background makes her the perfect fit to be President and CEO of Goodwill Industries. Goodwill emphasizes vocational employment for disadvantaged populations facing barriers to employment, including physical, mental, social challenges. Goodwill also supports functional planning of communities to enable equality and social inclusion. Michelle is able to use her OT background to consider a broad perspective of clients and better understand the barriers they face within their social contexts. Not only does Michelle’s OT background perfectly align with the missions of the organization, but she has also led Goodwill from an old, tired thrift business to a place of prosperity and community by using her functional planning and entrepreneurial skills. In the time Michelle has been with Goodwill, revenue has increased to $27 million and the number of employees have grown from 160 to 650 – many facing barriers such as disability and social disadvantage.

Michelle’s passion for her role stems from seeing clients’ lives transform through the power of work. Michelle’s clients are her inspiration, as she is able to witness individuals who began with little self-worth, minimal education, and limited social opportunity become productive citizens and leaders in their own right. Michelle plans to continue to help facilitate this transformation for individuals beyond Southwestern Ontario. She is now leading the charge to expand Goodwill into Toronto, and will strive to create over 900 jobs within the next 5 years.

We are so privileged to have such an accomplished woman as an alumni of our Department. She is a motivating force to all, and has helped transform the lives of many individuals. We can only wait to see what amazing things she will inspire in the future!

Dr. Emily Nalder ACRM Award Recipient

Dr. Emily Nalder will be receiving the 2017 Deborah L. Wilkerson Early Career Award from the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM).
Supported by CARF International, the award recognizes the contributions Emily has made to the field during her early career work.

Emily will present the Deborah Wilkerson Award Lecture during the ACRM 94th Annual Conference in Atlanta where she will receive her award. The conference will take place in October 2017.

More information >>

Nominate an OT Mentor

Do you know an OT who would be a great mentor for the course Building Practice through Mentorship?  Each OT mentor works with a small group of students to build reflective practice skills and support professional development throughout the two years of the Occupational Therapy program.

Mentors are experienced OTs who are exemplary role models, have strong group facilitation skills, and must be nominated by colleagues or past students. Make a nomination by emailing the course coordinators (see below) with the name and email of the proposed mentor, and a short statement of why you think they would be a great mentor.

Please contact the Mentorship Course Coordinators for more information or to make a nomination:  Lynn Cockburn  and Anne Fourt.

R. Renwick, Y. Hamdani, B. Gibson

Dr. Yani Hamdani Wins Bloorview’s “Pursuit Award”

Dr. Yani Hamdani has won a 2017 Bloorview Research Institute Pursuit Award for her doctoral dissertation: “Problematizing Transition to Adulthood for Young Disabled People.”

This prestigious award is presented following an international competition. The award acknowledges and supports “outstanding achievements in the field of childhood disability research”.

Dr. Hamdani completed her PhD studies and research in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto. Her proud supervisor and committee members are Dr. Rebecca Renwick (OS&OT Faculty), Dr. Barbara Gibson (Dept. of Physical Therapy), and Dr. Cameron Norman (Dalla Lana School of Public Health).

Yani is also an Occupational Therapist, and a guest lecturer and member of the Professional Curriculum Committee in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy.

Congratulations, Yani!

Dr. Lisa Richardson

Thelma Cardwell Research Day

The keynote speaker for this year’s Thelma Cardwell Research Day is Dr. Lisa Richardson, from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto. Dr. Richardson’s address, “Good Medicine: Lessons from Indigenous Health Education” will draw on her expertise as co-lead in Indigenous Medical Education.
We are thrilled to have Dr. Richardson as our guest and eagerly anticipate her presentation on a topic of such importance.
The Annual OS&OT Thelma Cardwell Research Day, a presentation of our 2nd year students’ research, will be held on Wednesday June 28th at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (O.I.S.E.), 252 Bloor Street West.
We look forward to seeing you there!
More information about the 2017 Program >>
More information the Thelma Cardwell Research Day >>